Tag Archives: Christmas

Family Fun with Christmas Lights

We have older vehicles, so Michael prefers to rent a car when we travel to see Brian, Lauren, and Liam. We met them at Cowboy Chicken restaurant for dinner.

I have to say that it wasn’t as good this year as I remembered it from last year. Don’t get me wrong, it was still good but I think next year we may meet and eat in Yukon instead of Edmund.

We like to park in a lot beside the park the lights are in and walk through. Lots of people drive through but I prefer to walk through. It’s so much more enjoyable, plus we can all walk through together. :)

They have a lot of photo opportunities throughout the park.

With this lighted Santa, Grandma showed Liam how it is done.

Then I held him up to get his picture taken. :)

Tiffany cannot refrain from anything gingerbread because of her book. (Murder Mystery and the Gingerbread Cookies)

There is a headless snowman. This year they put spotlights on these for the best photos.

This sleigh even has reindeer. Last year Liam and I took pictures with the deer. ;)

Such a good family picture of my son, daughter-in-love, and grandson!!!More photo ops. As you can see, there are a lot of photo opportunities. We even make ones where they are not intended. ;)

We Three Girls! :) Most of these pictures are thanks to Tiffany but some are also thanks to Lauren and Brian! My kids help a momma out! :) (And I definitely photobombed this one. :D ) Father and daughter Lauren really liked this dragon claus so they needed a picture with it. :) This cowboy santa and cactus are sooo cute. I love the poinsettias but it’s hard to see them in this picture with all the other lights in the background. :) This fountain was animated. This singing Christmas tree was  right up front and so fun.With my new painting endeavors, this rainbow painter was really cute. Pirate Ship The lights were soooo pretty and it was such a nice walk. It was a bit chilly but it was nicer than last year. Of course, we were better prepared this year than last year. I wore a fleece over top of my nice comfy long sleeve shirt AND a windbreaker. I seldom wear that many layers. We also came with hot chocolate in a thermos.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. We sure enjoyed ourselves. Liam had a lot of fun and it was fun to watch him enjoy it.

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº

Elf on a Shelf Alternatives?

Not Elf but Mouse ~ Lifeofjoy.meI have to admit that it seems as if families have a lot of fun with the Elf on a Shelf. But I have a hard time with the concept behind the Elf on a Shelf. Basically, from what I’ve read, the concept is that the elf reports back to Santa every night about whether the child has been good or not. Seeing as I don’t like making Santa seem any more real that people and television already make him.

A few weeks ago I found Shepherd on the Search, which is a way to get in on the good fun of the Elf on a Shelf without supporting the lie of Santa. But I recently found a few more ideas here on this blog: BlessedBeyondADoubt.

The first link she has it to a site that shared the idea of A Christmas Mouse. In the explanation she shared that his great uncle is Reepicheep. Oh, now this makes this even more fun for those fans of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She shares some ideas for things you can do with your mouse.

Jill shared some other links and ideas but my other favorite was the journey of the magi, where after Thanksgiving a wise man figurine is located in different places every day until he ends up under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Of course, I’d have to turn this around to still having him wandering around until Epiphany, when it is celebrated that the magi found the child Jesus. But I really like the idea and will be thinking on how I will do this for my grandkids in the future. (Right now Liam is too young and lives a bit far for a daily or even weekly hunt . . . but I’ll be thinking on this.)

Jill even shared several more idea links. Do go check it out, if you’d like to find some alternatives to Elf on a Shelf.

Well, that’s it for today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Christmas Budget

Christmas Budget ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt is April. I know it is April and no where near Christmas. However, now is the time to think about Christmas or more precisely, your Christmas budget.

In the early years of our marriage, coming up with a budget for Christmas was a difficult thing because we would wait until November to begin talking about it. Since Mike is a painter, the holidays can be slower because people don’t generally want their home torn up at this time of year. After many years of this recurrence, I finally realized that the best way to handle it was to put money away every week, on grocery day. This way, when the holidays roll around, we have no struggles because we’ve already discussed it and the money is there, earmarked, untouchable for anything else. :)

This one move has saved us a lot of frustration and has made the holidays much more enjoyable. I plan my savings year Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving. I like to have my Christmas shopping finished by Thanksgiving, so week is the last week I put towards the current year’s Christmas budget. Starting with the next week, I begin saving for the following year’s Christmas budget. Thus by the time the fall rolls around, I have a substantial portion of the budget and can begin Christmas shopping in earnest. :)

Our Christmas budget is no longer dependent on how much work Michael has during the late fall. We planned for it and make provision for it all year long. It is one of the best things I have ever decided to do and I’m very thankful that Michael has allowed me to do it.

I highly recommend thinking about it now for yourself. You could take a certain amount out each paycheck. This doesn’t work for us because Michael has inconsistent paychecks.

I took how much I wanted to spend on each individual. I included money for filling the stockings as well. Then I took that total and divided it by 52 weeks, because I shop for groceries every week and I get the money with my grocery money. I have an envelope where I stash it each week. Come time to shop, I use a charge card that earns me points I can spend on things later, so that I don’t have to carry cash with me.

I made that mistake the first year and carried cash but then had a difficult time keeping track of all the change. Now I keep a running total of what I spend, as I spend it and then just pay the lump sum when the bill comes. Michael tells me the bill has arrived, I look it over, and give him the cash, which he deposits and writes the check to pay the bill.

Yes, it’s a couple extra steps along the way but I’m very thankful to have the cash available and remove the financial strain from the holidays. Now we can just enjoy!

I hope this encourages you to consider making a Christmas budget and following through with the savings.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Christmas Time is Here at Last

Wrap the Gifts ~ Lifeofjoy.meWe had a wonderful Christmas holiday! I hope you did as well. I procrastinated getting my gifts wrapped again this year! Every year I say I’m going to do differently next year and I end up doing the same thing over and over again. So, in an effort not to procrastinate next year, I wrote a note on two different dates in my 5-year journal. On December 7th, I wrote, “Start wrapping gifts!” and then on the 18th, “Finish wrapping ALL gifts today!” I sincerely hope I listen to myself next year. ;)

Brian and Lauren volunteered at their church before coming out for the night. I still had a few gifts to wrap by the time they and sweet Liam arrived. Of course, I took a few minutes to snuggle and love on my sweet grandson and then back to those last few packages.

Christmas Adam ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Sean and Michael had run into town to pick up Sean’s last gifts for Tiffany. Tiffany began making Sausage Sandwich and Lauren helped her make the queso. We played some Tenzi after dinner.

Family Fun ~ Lifeofjoy.me(Sorry, it’s a bit blurry but the best one I have.)

And then she had some quality time with Liam.

Xmas Eve Fun ~ Lifeofjoy.meTiff & Liam ~ Lifeofjoy.meShortly after that picture was taken, Liam awoke and Tiff went to bed. :D

We open gifts on Christmas Eve morning. (I wrote all about that here.) For the last several years, the boys have helped me make breakfast before we open gifts. They make the Bubble Bread and I put together the Breakfast Burrito Bake.

Evidently Brian and Lauren had to wake up sweet Liam. He was not thrilled but eventually warmed up. ;) We prayed together, opened stocking stuffers, opened gifts, and then ate breakfast. Afterwards, we packed up and went to visit my sister and her family.

The guys went and brought home food from Long John Silvers, we had a nice visit, and then the four of us came back home. Sean recently purchased The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings extended edition videos. We agreed to start a marathon of watching these on Christmas Eve night.

Tiffany made the apple crumble pie for me while I was still wrapping gifts the day before but I still had the pumpkin pie and apple cake to make. When we got home from Tracie’s I took some time to just chill as we watched a movie – we’d borrowed one from Tracie that we hadn’t seen yet. I planned to do my baking afterwards. (By my choice of words, I’m guessing that you’ve figured out that all did not go as planned. ;) )

The movie finished and I’m not sure what I was doing as the kids put in the first Hobbit movie. I may have been reading the new art ebook I got from Michael that I really wanted or I could have been playing a Christmas game on my laptop but the end result was that I forgot all about doing any baking at all until it was time for bed!

Sean stayed up and helped me. Thankfully pumpkin pie is uber easy. We were out of apples, as I had miscalculated how many I needed, so I could not make the apple cake. Instead I took some of the leftover Breakfast Burrito Bake for Lauren to eat the next morning. Mom has made some breakfast casseroles for the last several years, so the cake really isn’t needed.

Liam looked adorable on Christmas Day. Mom held him as she read the children’s pop-up book.

Xmas Day ~ Lifeofjoy.meLauren reads to him a lot, so he already has a love of books! I’m so happy about that!

It was a very warm day for Christmas. :( I do not like it to be so warm. I even wore flipflops! Ugh!

Christmas Day ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt got so warm that Tracie had to pull up the pant legs on her comfy pants!

Christmas Day Heat ~ Lifeofjoy.meAs you can tell, Liam does not lack for attention or love. :)

Cuties on Christmas ~ Lifeofjoy.meAfter presents, we had a little time before we needed to get the pizza going. The guys went outside and did some target practice with the pellet rifle while we gals played some Tenzi.

Christmas Day Practice ~ Lifeofjoy.meThen some of us gals decided to give it a shot too.

Christmas Day Practice ~ Lifeofjoy.meI tried it once or twice. The first time, I figured I didn’t even hit the cardboard. My brother-in-law Mike said that the reason he couldn’t find it was because I hit the bull’s eye! :) SEE!!!

Lucky Shot? ~ Lifeofjoy.meLOL! It was a lot of fun! BTW, my parents live out in the country on five acres of land.

Mom made some delicious pizza, assisted by my sisters and I. I really love the pizza tradition. And as an added benefit, there’s very little to clean up afterwards! Win-Win!

This post has gotten rather lengthy, so I think I’ll quit for now. I hope you have a fun evening planned tomorrow to ring in the new year. We’ll be at my parents’ playing games together. I hope I get some good pictures to share next week.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Christmas Around the World

Thanksgiving and Big Stuff ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy daughter Tiffany’s Christmas book has been published! It is a murder mystery surrounded by the fun and festivities of the Christmas holiday and a budding romance. Get it on Amazon

Christmas Around the World ~ lifeofjoy.me Since I no longer have anyone to homeschool, I ask my sister Tracie, from time to time, if she needs any help researching anything. She said she was interested in Christmas around the world. Thankful for the idea, I did a quick search and was thrilled with what I found.

  • First there is this pdf. Now I generally don’t like linking directly to the pdf but it is what came up in my search. It has a couple of links for the information for nine different countries and then activities and recipes too. There are even a few notebooking pages your children can use. It is a very nice, simple unit study.
  • There is also this simple pdf with a paragraph or two for each of nine countries (some different from the above but some duplicates too) and links for activities and recipes for each. This one has flags of 29 different countries. It is the first link on this page. At the bottom of that page, there are many links that I may pursue in the future.
  • This website has a one-page six-day study. It has one paragraph about how each of six countries celebrate Christmas and then a link or two to activities or recipes for each. At the end, there is a list of countries that don’t celebrate Christmas at all. So if you are looking for something very short and sweet, this may be your resource.
  • Although I cannot recommend the free ebook on this next site for a Christmas study, it would be good for some other time of year for a geography study, as it really does not delve into how each country celebrates Christmas. BUT she has about 30 contributors in a linky on the bottom of the page, one per country, where the participant does share the Christmas happenings of the selected country. So for that, I highly recommend you visit the site. :) (And come back later for a geography study and use the free ebook. Oh, I should add that the version I downloaded of the ebook did not have the right links to the TimeForKids website but it is easy to find in a search.)
  • This final one is to a webpage that tells about a lapbook free over on homeschoolshare. It sounds nice. Normally, I would just go check it out for myself and share about it without referring to her site but she did a nice write-up and at the bottom of her post she has three links to some studies/lapbooks that are pretty interesting: Birth of Christ, Symbols of Christmas, and Christmas Hymns.

Who knows, after you learn about some of these other countries, you may decide that you want to add some traditions to your holidays like this family did. Click over to this site and  see which ones they found were a good addition to their celebrations. ;) But whatever you do, don’t get yourself all bogged down. Lighten up and enjoy the season! Do some baking together and be sure that your children know why you do the things you do.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº


Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Peanut Butter Balls

An easy to make confection with just a few simple ingredients. Oh! It’s chocolate too. :)

Thanksgiving and Big Stuff ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy daughter Tiffany’s Christmas book has been published! It is a murder mystery surrounded by the fun and festivities of the Christmas holiday and a budding romance. Get it on Amazon

I first remember making this when I was about 12 years old. The Ladies’ Auxiliary at the church we were going to at the time was making peanut brittle and peanut butter balls. Peanut butter balls was the obvious place for a young person to help. I watched as one of the ladies mixed up a batch. It was so simple that I memorized it.

We didn’t start making them at home right away but it has become a mainstay over the years. At one point, Mom made several batches each Christmas season. We don’t go to my parents’ as much as we used to between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Consequently, Mom doesn’t need to make as many and my family has requested we have some at home.

Well, let’s get to it.

Combine 1# of peanut butter (I only made a half batch today though)

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.me

1# powdered sugar

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Melted a stick of butter

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.mePeanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.mePlease be sure to do this in a large bowl, so that you have room to stir.

When combined, take a nice size ball and roll it into a rope or snake shape.

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.mePinch off a bit and roll into a ball.

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.mePlace on either wax paper or parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.mePut them in the freezer to harden so that it is easier to coat them in chocolate.

Combine one bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the upper pan of a double boiler along with about 1/3 of a block of paraffin wax  with about an inch or so of water in the bottom pan.

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.mePeanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.meThe wax is important so that the chocolate doesn’t come off on your hands.

Use a toothpick and dip each ball into the chocolate and then place back on the parchment paper.

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhen they are all coated, put them back in either the refrigerator or freezer to harden. Mom always stores them in the freezer.Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.meAnd I’m storing them in the freezer in an old ice cream container. ;)

Peanut Butter Balls ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Peanut Butter Balls


  • 1# peanut butter
  • 1# powdered sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3-2/3 of a block of paraffin wax


  1. Combine peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter in a bowl.
  2. Roll into about 1-inch balls and place on wax paper or parchment paper lined cookie sheet
  3. Put in freezer to harden up a bit.
  4. Combine chocolate chips and wax in the upper pan of a double boiler. (You could also place a glass bowl on top of a pot with about 1-2" boiling water.) Put 1-2" water in the bottom pan and bring to a boil.
  5. Combine chocolate and wax.
  6. Remove balls from the freezer. Use a toothpick to dip them into the chocolate and replace onto the cookie sheet.
  7. Put them back in the freezer to harden the chocolate. Eat or store. 🙂


Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº